JOHNSTON, Iowa -- National Guard soldiers are learning some unique and coveted skills this week at Camp Dodge.
“We have a mission training team that has come here to provide some air assault training. We started with about 224 soldiers that started through the training. So it’s a great opportunity for us to train a large number of soldiers here at Camp Dodge, here in Iowa, in a relatively short period of time,” Lieutenant Colonel Mike Wunn said.
The last time they had this kind of training was in 2013, and it’s essential to better prepare both new and seasoned soldiers for important missions. According to Air Assault Sergeant Cody Leonard, they use a 34-foot tower for the training because that's the height at which soldiers start to get apprehensive.
“It’s important because overseas we deal with mountainous terrains. You have a lot of different rugged terrain, so if you need to get down from a ledge quickly, we teach them how to rappel, how to repel safely,” Leonard said.
After they complete that part of the training, they finish off by rappelling from a helicopter 60-90 feet in the air.
“I think everybody should be, if you’re going to be in the military, you need to be ready to do this kind of stuff at all times and to be ready to deploy for whatever need,” Iowa National Guard Soldier Chris Downing said.
Leonard said not only do they need to know how to rappel, soldiers also need to know how to get important supplies to rough areas overseas.
“This training is good because we also teach them how to sling load, we teach them about different aircrafts, rotary wing aircrafts. It’s good for them to know because overseas it’s hard to get equipment, ammunition, and personnel into certain areas because of terrain. So we teach them how to sling load ammunition, equipment, whatever they need and get it to them quickly,” Leonard said.
Wunn said over the years Camp Dodge has become a destination location for training within the National Guard, bringing in over half a million soldiers and airmen for sessions like this one.